Marathons & Whisky
20 October 2017
The ballot is out for the London 2018 marathon, and with over 386,000 hopefuls applying to take part, there was bound to be some disappointed runners (we’ve even noticed a few around the office). Don’t bin your trainers yet though, there are loads of marathons in the UK every year – over a hundred in fact! Whether you’re into tarmac or trail, there are plenty of options other than heading down to the Big Smoke.
To get you inspired, we caught up with our resident endurance runners Ginnie and Sarah. The pair are currently training for the first ever Dramathon - a trail marathon up in Speyside in the Scottish Highlands.
The event name, for those unfamiliar with Scottish booze slang, is a nod to the regions whisky-soaked heritage (its home to over half the countries distilleries) and we suspect that goody bags of booze miniatures, and not medals, might be the real reason for the couple of hundred hardy souls heading north to take on the full 26.2 miles.
What made you both decide on this particular challenge?
Ginnie - In December last year, I read about a new marathon being launched in Speyside. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run in the highlands, and obviously I’m never going to pass up free whisky…
Fast forward a few months and when Sarah joined the company we immediately bonded over our shared love of good food and rubbish telly. It was clear Sarah loved a challenge as well and she seemed pretty excited by all my marathon chat and so without much convincing at all, she decided to get herself on the waiting list for the Dramathon.
Sarah - I had no idea that this marathon even existed until I met Ginnie and I definitely took a wee bit more convincing than Ginnie remembers! It’s been three years since I ran the Edinburgh Marathon, which was on tarmac, and I’ve hardly run since. However a place became available at REALLY short notice and I only had 24hours to decide (no pressure then!) and Ginnie sealed the deal when she told me that we get free whisky at the end. To be honest, she probably should’ve lead with that really! I mean what better incentive is there than free whisky and the stunning views of Speyside.
How have you prepared yourself for this kind of distance?
G- I was lucky enough to secure a ballot spot in the London Marathon in April this year, so I knew if I maintained the fitness I gained in training for that, I’d be laughing. It’s never that easy though and as I’m a bit of a self-confessed endurance junkie, I ended up working towards Dramathon while also training for a 10km open water swim….
To help quick recovery and complement my endurance training, I do a lot of strength work as well as swimming and cycling. As a triathlete I already spend a great deal of time on my bike so I try to find any excuse to squeeze some mountain-biking or road cycling into my plan! It’s brilliant cross training as the cardiovascular gains are high while the impact on your joints is low so it’s ideal for injury-prone runners like myself!
S- Thankfully the whisky isn’t handed out during the race or that would’ve been a whole different type of training for us! Trail running is completely new for me so I was fortunate that Ginnie was kind enough to write me a plan. My plan consisted of two short runs during the week and a longer one on the weekends and I kept my week day ones fairly short to concentrate on my breathing and time. I suffer from terrible stiches so I used this as an opportunity to test different techniques to get rid of them (best one for me is breathing in as much as you can then breathing out really fast). When it came to the longer runs, I tried my best to get out into the hills to give my trail shoes a good test so the Pentlands became a second home for me.
I also needed to get some strength training in there because, believe me, that helps with things like back pain after a long run. I’m not a fan of the gym so instead I went to one hard yoga class a week as well as at least one ballet class, both of which have been amazing for developing my core strength. To round my training off I’ve been cycling to and from the train station in the mornings which is roughly eight miles. I actually get bored running sometimes so throwing cycling into my training mix has really helped keep me interested and it’s amazing for your fitness as well.
What's been the hardest part of training?
G- Training has been a real mixed bag. Despite having a very comprehensive training plan with a good balance of recovery and endurance work, I can't seem to run that far without picking up a niggle or injury. This is quite typical for a runner that, until five years ago, didn't actually own trainers and lived on the sofa! Staying motivated can be hard when it’s raining sideways but you just have to keep going! Personally, I tend to have to reassure myself that I’m not in these things to win them, but to enjoy the experience and relish in the sense of achievement. I used to get really stressed out about niggles, aches and pain whereas now, experience has taught me to just take a deep breath, have a day off and do my stretches. My body wasn’t designed to do these things, and I work it hard so it deserves a rest from time to time!
S- I found that the hardest part was the constant mental battle with myself. Towards week 8 or 9 I would talk myself in and out of going for runs. When the weathers bad and it starts getting darker earlier it can be really hard to find the motivation to go out and then, when you don’t go out, you beat yourself up and convince yourself you aren’t going to be able to do it. This is when it really helps to have someone else training for the same event. Ginnie has been a huge help with encouraging texts and since she’s done endurance events before she’s always on hand with helpful tips to get you out of your slump. The best advice she gave me was ‘it’s not all about the running, we aren’t trying to win the race, just finish it in one piece’ - so true! All the alternative training I’ve been doing has really boosted my fitness so I allow myself days off here and there and there’s no harm in that, in fact I found I ran better after a break! At the end of the day, no one really cares about your time, it’s MY time and for me completing a race like Dramathon IS the challenge and something I’ll be incredibly proud of.
What are you most looking forward to?
G- Pizza! Obviously I’m really looking forward to the challenge of running a marathon through the stunning Scottish highlands and earning my whisky reward but I’m SO excited about the food that I’m going to enjoy afterwards!
All joking aside, being part of such an historic event, (the first of its kind) will be incredible and who doesn’t love earning a bit of marathon bling and some bragging rights? I’m really excited to run this with Sarah as well as we’ll be keeping each other sane and motivated along the way. I’ve only ever run races solo, so it will be nice to have my mate by my side for those dark moments where I just want to stop and nap.
This will be my fourth marathon distance race but the sense of achievement that comes with finishing an event like this never fades. It’s a wonderful feeling of satisfaction, once my legs have forgiven me, of course…
S- You mean besides the finish line? I’m really, really looking forward to that finish line. Mainly, I’m looking forward to putting all my hard work from the past four months to the test, it’s time to see if all those early mornings, late nights and long wet and windy training runs were worth it.
I’m also looking forward to running it with Ginnie, I’ve never ran races on my own so it will be nice to have someone there to chat to. We’re treating this as more of a fun run, we don’t want to just power through it and get it done, we want to enjoy every second as this is what we’ve been working so hard for.
We just have to remember to limit the Instagram pictures stops though, don’t want to miss that cut-off time...